Jolly (Jahleel Dudley) Woodbridge

Jolly (Jahleel Dudley) Woodbridge

July 22, 1931 - October 1, 2018 

Jolly (Jahleel Dudley) Woodbridge, 87, of Hot Springs, was welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven on October 1, 2018. He was born in Bronxville, N.Y., July 22, 1931.

Jolly and his wife, Maggie, moved to Hot Springs in April 2003. A graduate of Cornell University in 1953 with a BS in Agriculture, Jolly was elected to three honorary societies and earned an award as Commanding Officer of the ROTC. He was also Chairman of the University Blood Drive, setting a record for N.Y. State. Jolly graduated from Harvard Business School in 1958, with a major in Finance. He received the highest grade in the field report for Management of Financial Institutions. He served in the Army as an artillery officer and aviator, flying numerous low level (between the river and bridge) missions. 

Jolly’s early career was as an active stock trader, making large markets for a major Wall Street firm. He then spent a decade as a professional manager, earning a reputation for rescuing and rejuvenating struggling companies. The techniques and skills he implemented in transforming these companies demonstrated his genius in all aspects of business. He returned to the financial world as an options market maker on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. This position led him to build a sales and trading equity derivatives operation for a successful Chicago firm. 

In 1999 Jolly retired to fulfill his dream of working, helping and learning from the Native American culture, especially the people of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Reservation. He also built and operated a bed and breakfast on Pine Ridge Reservation and was a founding member of Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce. Jolly was instrumental in bringing tourism to the area and increasing tribal revenues. Among his treasured memories was participating in powwows, once winning the Men’s Traditional Dance Competition. 

In 1990 destiny brought Jolly and Maggie together; they married in 1995. Maggie fondly recalls that her “snuggle bunny” was a lovable, caring, optimistic, encouraging, big-hearted, intelligent, supportive and fascinating person, capable of talking to a 3-year-old, 30-year-old or 300-year-old on any subject! He incorporated the “three-foot rule”, which meant that anyone within three feet of Jolly was a perfect candidate for conversation. Maggie recalls losing her Jolly Boy on several occasions in the grocery store, as he never met a stranger and always did his best to make his newfound friend feel like the most important person on Earth! His engaging personality, warmth, caring attitude and unique desire to make others happy were just a few of his admirable traits. He never hesitated to go out of his way to make others feel special and important. He mentored many people, encouraging them to always strive for excellence in their chosen field. 

Jolly was extremely proud to be a 14th-generation direct descendent of Rev. John Woodbridge, from Stanton, England. He spent years compiling information about his pioneering ancestors. Jolly was well read on any number of subjects, with a deep love of history and many books to support his passion. He had a keen interest in health and wellbeing. His athleticism included participation in hockey, tennis, squash and football, to name a few. His intense love of airplanes took him often to the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., where he met and befriended many famous pilots. 

As an accomplished singer, Jolly always made those around him smile as he spontaneously broke out into renditions of You Are My Sunshine, among other popular tunes. 

Throughout his entire life, Jolly maintained a deep love of and great sense of patriotism for his country. He was an avid supporter of many worthy organizations, including, but not limited to, The Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Lakota Boys and Girls and United States Olympic Committee. In April of 2012 he was enrolled in the Patriot National Roll Of Honor for selfless service to America’s hospitalized GIs. 

Jolly is survived by his beloved wife, Maggie, of Hot Springs; daughters, Martha Pedersen of Lake Bluff, Ill., Margaret Gaffney of Cayce, S.C., Calista Woodbridge of Johns Island, S.C., and Amelia Hatfield of Columbus, Ga. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and his cherished horse, Cante. 

Jolly will always be remembered for his enthusiasm for life and his wonderful stories of his adventures. His nickname, “Jolly”, truly described him perfectly! He will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. 

Services will be Friday, November 2, 10:00 a.m. at Hot Springs Wesleyan Church, 2046 Canton Avenue. Interment will take place at 2:30 p.m. at Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis. Memorials can be made to HSMA Food Pantry (P.O. Box 73, Hot Springs SD 57747) or the Hot Springs Wesleyan Church. 

Arrangements are placed in the care of Chamberlain McColley’s, Hot Springs.

Fall River County Herald

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